Fall/Winter Makeup Update

Wow, is it almost December already? Scary thought. I can't believe my evolution is - still evolving. The time is flying so fast, I really do forget how many days go by without detailing my current makeup trials and tribulations.

Given that I was still somewhat of a newbie when I first started blogging about them and the current fall/winter season, I thought it was time to update you on what has become near and dear to me.

On a daily basis, I've been using my L'Oreal liquid eyeliner in Defined by Plum, Cover Girl TruShine Lipcolor in Chocolate Shine, and the love of my life, Almay's Amazing Eye Liner in Black Brown. Blush enters in somewhat of a variety show, but big stars have been NYX Blush in Pecan and L'Oreal's TruBlend Blush in Subtle Sable.

Other products I continue to use regularly and which serve me well (both makeup and skincare):

Clinique Almost Powder (SPF 15) in Deep

Clinique Line-Smoothing Concealer in Deep Honey
NYX Eye Shadow Trio - Guru
The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil Blemish Stick (a real life-saver)
Burt's Bees Soap Bark & Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream
Phisoderm Gel Clarifying Moisturizer
Nivea Lip Care
MAC Lipstick in Polished Up combined w/ Milani Lip Gloss in Taboo

The cooler weather and much clearer skin (thank you, Tretinoin) have been helping things along quite a bit, and I'm grateful. Fall/winter are definitely favorable makeup evolution seasons - too bad I started this over the summer. You live, you learn.

Drugstore Lipstick - Cover Girl TruShine in Chocolate Shine

Ever since I saw Ugly Betty's Wilhemina Slater switch to a rich, velevety, 90s-esque shade of brown lipstick, I have been yearning for the same look. Unfortunately, I am not Vanessa Williams playing a fashionable but evil magazine editor out to rule the world. I am short and have a small face - such a lipstick might be overwhelmingly outdated and semi-vampy.

I sampled some deep shades at MAC and was not impressed. My friend K vetoed all the potential candidates with a quick shake of her head and a long "No," but I could see it in her eyes - I looked like a baby-faced Indian aunty. Not attractive.

Enter Cover Girl's TruShine Lipcolor in Chocolate Shine. Since I decided that creamy, matte formulas in a deep shade just wouldn't work for me, I combed My Favorite Place On Earth, Duane Reade, for a sheer formula in a crisp, autumnal color. This lipstick is exactly that.

Don't be fooled by the almost-holographic casing and the richness of the color in the tube - this is on par with other sheer lipsticks like Clinique's Bare Brilliance lipstick in Chocolate Ice (which I was very into this summer). TruShine is as moisturizing as a balm, has buildable color, and works for both day and night. I'm already halfway done with the tube. Better yet, it has a soft shine without the bronzey sparkles that Chocolate Ice had. The only downside is that because the formula is so sheer, it takes a few layers for a richer look, and needs reapplication throughout the day. But for the ease of use and versatile shade, it's worth it.

Very surprised by this lipstick, and also very happy. I intend to try it in Mauve and a few other shades as well. Again, at about $6.00 a pop. you really can't go wrong.


Nails and the Art of Zen

I know, I know - I've been silent for quite some time. Since the summer, in fact. And we now find ourselves in the thick of autumn.

Let me set the scene: last we saw of Sania, she was lamenting her departure from the land of milk & honey -- New York City -- and ready to move off into the great wild nothingness of the semi-South.

And now that she's here? Well, there is definitely a lot of nothingness. The (semi) South has a different dynamic that's interesting and infuriating at times, while still managing to be somewhat charming.

It doesn't help that I'm in one of the most intense graduate programs that I could have ever imagined. There's not a lot of time for grooming and feeling pretty. Women here also tend to prefer a classic look, which I can appreciate, but sometimes I just want to go for the trendy. I still do it, because that's my personality, but I definitely stick out in the crowd.

There is one habit that I have held onto, though. And that's doing my nails. In the midst of all the craziness of schoolwoork, homework, and all the other kinds of work, sitting down to paint my nails has almost a zen-like calming effect on me.

Maybe it's because it involves sitting down, with no distractions, putting my hands on the table, painting each nail meticulously and waiting for everything to dry. And that's ten minutes that I'm not forced to think about anyone or anything else, worry about what I have left to do, or when I'm going to sleep.

And looking down at my brightly painted nails can get me through any dragging day, because color? It makes everything better.

The Bomb of an Eye Shadow Palette

In an effort to ease my eye shadow experimentation, I've been trying to find a great palette instead of collecting singles. Usually, I either don't like all of the coordinated colors or not all of them actually suit me. The only one I love so far is NYX Trio in Guru. A few weeks ago, I finally found a high-end palette that does the trick - TheBalm's Shady Lady Eye Shadow Palette (limited edition).

This amazing palette has NINE eyeshadows/shadow liners (including 3 new ones) in an assortment of shades and formulas suited for almost any occasion or makeup mood. They are:

Caught in the Act Courtney (rich brown with gold sparkle)
Shameless Shana (tahitian bronze)
Luscious Lani (icy pink champagne)
Jealous Jordana (rich shimmering green)
Risque Renne (dark navy blue sheen)
Curvy Camy (plum shimmer with gold flecks)
Jet-Setting Jennifer (pale gold shimmer)
All About Alex (olive shimmer)
Easy Wheezie (gunmetal gray shimmer)

You see that there is a nice mix of deep jewel tones that double as eye liners, neutral shades, and metallics. And, of course, there is my requisite plum. All these shades work together in a number of different combinations, or can be used alone.

Best of all, I actually really like the quality of TheBalm's eye shadows (see experience with Mysterious Marissa). While clearly you have to be a bit more careful with the shimmer/sparkle and darker shadows, the lighter ones are a breeze to use. My favorite ones are Jet-Setting Jennifer, Easy Wheezie, and All About Alex. They work on just about everybody and are so easy to use, no experience is necessary.

The only "eh" factor with this palette - the leopard print cardboard packaging. Not exactly discreet or sophisticated. Like other TheBalm shadows, this is a large cardboard flip-top with a magnetized lid to for secure closure. Just to be on the safe side, I wish they had changed the packing for this product (and taken down the ugly factor a few notches).

As important as the versatility of this palette - the price. At $15 each, nine TheBalm shadows would normally cost you about $135. This palette is $38.00 and in my opinion, actually worth every cent. Limited Edition @ Sephora

Mad Purple Disease Continues

Ah, I appear to be slowing down with my makeup evolution, huh? No worries - I'm always trying new things, they have just been a bit redundant lately. Lots of different purple and plum eye shadows, nail polishes, and a new lipstick find. I haven't had as much time to browse of late in Sephora so drugstore thrills have been the way to go. Then again, I am slightly obsessed with drugstores anyway so this really isn't out of the ordinary. Moving on....

Purple, purple everywhere! 2 shadows to try:
Maybelline Expert Eye Shadow Single in Amethyst (High Pearl finish) - This is a gorgeous new shade from Maybelline. It is a bright, blue-based purple with a slightly gauzy, neon pearl finish. I know that sounds weird, but I don't know how else to describe it. This shade would be a lot more in-your-face and pigmented if it were a high-end brand. But I found that I can wear this shade rather easily with just a few swipes over the lid. It applies smoothly and is sheer enough to layer as you like. I promise you that this can be work/day appropriate. It's a unique color that avoids giving you a blackeye but also isn't too disco-queen. Hoping to experiment more with this as a crease shade and with smudged kohl eye liner instead of the liquid I'm currently using.

L'Oreal HiP Concentrated Eye Shadow Duo in Charisma - This cute little pot features two complementary pink and purple shades. The pink is somewhat lilac/silver toned, and the royal purple has some hints of shimmer. While this seems like a very versatile combo, the shadow itself is a bit hard to apply and blend. Additionally, I find this kind of purple can quickly give way to a fake blackeye. It's definitely more of traditional crease shade for a smoky eye (which I have yet to master) so I don't find it as easy-to-use (or fun) as Maybelline's Amethyst. But worth a try if you're experimenting.

Maybelline Expert Wear Single Eye Shadow, $3.79 & L'Oreal HiP Concentrated Eye Shadow Duo, $7.00, both @ Drugstores

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